The Kootenay Ice are back on the road in search of answers after an abysmal road performance against the Calgary Hitmen Saturday night.
The Ice coughed up a 4-1 lead, falling to their Eastern Conference rival 6-4. After the game, Ice head coach Ryan McGill called out his players and leadership group, questioning their willingness to follow directions and stick the game plan, in addition to criticizing the selfish, individualistic approach of some of his skaters. In the same breath, he questioned his own approach in coaching the squad.
“We have a team here that has a really hard time with following directions,” McGill said following the loss in Calgary. “You have to look no further than the coach…Obviously our teaching methods aren’t correct and we;re going to have to figure out a way to get [the players] to understand that if they follow the game plan they will have success.”
The loss dropped the Ice to 2-3-0-0 on the season ahead of a three-game road swing that begins tonight against the Regina Pats (3-2-1-0). Tonight’s tilt against Regina marks the first of three games in three nights through Saskatchewan, a tough test at the best of times for any WHL club.
If the Ice are to get things on track, they’re going to have to do it without the services of two key cogs. While D Rinat Valiev has yet to suit up due to a lower-body injury, RW Jon Martin joins the Russian import on the shelf after sustaining an upper-body injury Saturday in Calgary.
After opening the season with consecutive losses to the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Pats rattled off three wins in a row, taking care of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders (twice) before the Red Deer Rebels walked into Regina and edged the Pats in overtime Sunday evening.
Overage LW Braden Christoffer has led the Pats charge, tallying three goals and four assists through six games to start the season. Rookie centre Sam Steel isn’t far behind, beginning his WHL career with two goals and three assists.
After beginning the season with the Calgary Hitmen, import RW Pavel Padakin has rattled off a goal and two assists in four games since joining Regina. The undrafted 20-year-old was acquired from the Hitmen Sept. 23 in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
Between the pipes, Daniel Wapple (2-2-1-0, 3.59 GAA, .880 SP) has handled the bulk of the workload in Regina, suiting up for five of the team’s six games to start the year.
Following tonight’s contest in Regina, the Ice get right back on the road, facing the Moose Jaw Warriors (3-3-0-1) tomorrow. Kootenay’s Saskatchewan swing concludes Friday, Oct. 10 when they Ice visit the Swift Current Broncos (4-4-0-0).
Notes: Five players sit tied atop the Ice scoring chart with four points each, including C Luke Philp (3G, 1A), RW Zak Zborosky (2G, 2A), D Cale Fleury (4A), D Tyler King (4A) and D Troy Murray (4A)…D Rinat Valiev is expected to miss one to three more weeks with a lower-body injury…RW Jon Martin is expected to miss a week with an upper-body injury…